Discovering and articulating the stories tucked away in living spaces, landscapes and the everyday images appear to be Subin Abraham’s desire as an artist. The footnotes to some of the works and the telling one-word titles speak of his insight into images as key to unique narratives.
Beside a large oil on canvas painting of a family is a write-up. Going by the story, the girl in the flowing white dress must now be a woman in her middle ages, and the painting is a copy of the photograph taken on the day of her first communion. The girl’s father, an alcoholic, did not live for many more days and it was the only surviving photograph of the man. His elder brother had given it to the artist many years ago to be reproduced as a painting. The artist, caught in the business of living, had forgotten all about it until he discovered the picture some time back. The person who entrusted it to him had passed away too. Subin says in the write-up that he did the painting as a penance.
The short tale is narrated in so touching a manner that the pathos of the moment frozen on canvas turns into a lump in your throat. “This is one of the last paintings I did using oil. For a while now, I have concentrated on water colour. I think my subjects and their delineation on canvas are better expressed through water colour,” says Subin.
So it would seem to the onlooker too. The cool shades of blue and green dominate the canvas and they melt into one another in the vast countrysides. The brown of the earth often set them off and so do the earnestness of the characters in the paintings, involved in daily acts of living and unaware of being subjects of artistic interest.
“Travelling around South India in pursuit of subjects to paint on was a very enriching experience,” says Subin.
“After my second solo exhibition in the city in 2009, I devoted most of my time to travel to parts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. I did go to the cities. But for some reason, sights from the city have not appeared in my works. Instead, the morning and evenings in villages, when the sunlight paints the surroundings in a mix of colours, make a deep impact on my mind,” he says.
Subin lives in Thiruvananthapuram with his wife Divya, a Carnatic vocalist. The exhibition will conclude on December 8. Time - 11 am to 8 pm.